What is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling involves risking something of value (money, possessions or property) on an event that is based primarily on chance. It is considered a psychological disorder when it begins to affect a person’s life in negative ways and causes problems with their family, work, health or relationships. The term ‘gambling addiction’ is often used to describe this condition.

Gambling can be done in a variety of ways: a person might play slot machines at a casino, place a wager on a horse race or make an online poker bet. Some people also consider buying or selling stocks and bonds to be gambling. In reality, however, these transactions do not fit the classic definition of gambling because they involve a transfer of risk to someone else. Insurance, on the other hand, meets the defining characteristics of gambling because it is purchased to mitigate against risk.

Some people are predisposed to gambling addiction because of their genes or mental health conditions. Certain brain regions may be underactive in these individuals, leading to difficulty processing reward information and controlling impulses. A lack of empathy and poor understanding of random events can also contribute to problem gambling. In addition, some people might use gambling to meet basic human needs like a sense of belonging or to escape from stressful life experiences.

Even when a gambler’s luck runs out, they might continue to spend money in the hope of winning it back. This is called chasing losses and it can lead to even worse financial and emotional problems in the long run. This type of behavior is fueled by an early big win, boredom susceptibility, the illusion of control and impulsivity. Other contributing factors include an escape coping mechanism, the use of drugs or alcohol and depression.

If you think you might have a gambling problem, there are things you can do to help yourself. One of the most important steps is to stop thinking about gambling and find other things to do with your time. It’s also a good idea to strengthen your support network and seek help from others. This could include finding a sponsor in a recovery program like Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Another step is to limit the amount of money you’re willing to gamble with. To do this, set a fixed amount of cash you can afford to lose and don’t exceed it. Also, never take out your ATM card when gambling and always leave it in the hotel room. Finally, always tip your dealers and cocktail waitresses. It’s common for them to earn a significant portion of their salary from tips, so it’s worth giving them at least $1-$5 per round. You can do this by giving them a small chip or by telling them it’s for them personally. It’s also important to avoid free cocktails, which can encourage you to bet more recklessly. You should also know that casinos aren’t designed to save you down on your luck.